Lindsey Vonn’s request to compete in a men’s World Cup downhill race has been rejected by the International Ski Federation.
The FIS council met Saturday in Oberhofen, Switzerland, and “confirmed that one gender is not entitled to participate in races of the other,” adding in a statement that “exceptions will not be made to the FIS Rules.”
Vonn, a four-time overall World Cup champion, wanted to enter the men’s downhill on Nov. 24 at Lake Louise, Alberta, six days before the women race on the same course.
“It’s very clear,” FIS secretary general Sarah Lewis said in a telephone interview.
“It’s called the men’s World Cup and the ladies’ World Cup. The men race the men’s World Cup and the ladies race the
ladies’ World Cup. FIS and World Cup points are not transferrable from one circuit to another.”
The FIS statement said that Vonn “is welcome to submit a request to the organising committee and jury to be a forerunner” for the races. Forerunners test the course before races for safety and visibility.
Vonn has earned nine of her 26 World Cup downhill victories in Lake Louise, which is often dubbed ‘Lake Lindsey’ for her dominance there.
Vonn approached the FIS on her own with the request in early October. Then, following discussions between Vonn, coaches and sport leaders, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) petitioned the FIS council to consider her request to enter a men’s race at some point in her career.
“It would have provided a great platform to showcase our sport and the amazing athletic performances of our athletes”
Alpine Canada president Max Gartner
“We’re disappointed that the FIS Council did not support the proposal but also respect its direction,” USSA president and CEO Bill Marolt, who is also a member of the FIS council, said in a statement.
“Lindsey Vonn is a great champion in our sport and we have always respected her interests in this new challenge.”
Alpine Canada president Max Gartner was also frustrated by the decision.
“I saw it as a great opportunity to raise the profile of the sport by attracting interest from people who do not normally follow ski racing, particularly in North America,” Gartner said in a statement.
“It would have provided a great platform to showcase our sport and the amazing athletic performances of our athletes.”
“I hope Lindsey gets a chance to fulfill her dream at a later date.”